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Ask Sid: Finding best temperature for white & rosé wine service

August 16th, 2017
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ideal temperature for rose and white wine

Question: During this excessively hot Summer of 2017 I am finding it more difficult to obtain the ideal temperature for the dinner service of my whites & rosés. What are you doing?

Answer: Timely question. Yes it becomes more difficult for your wine service when the room temperature is quite high and quickly warms up your initially perfectly cool wine. Trial & error tactics seem to work best. Starting with a colder wine glass can help. In hot weather I prefer to serve the whites and roses rather colder than ideal and let them quickly warm up in the glass. I also pour a smaller amount initially and add to it from the colder bottle or decanter (held in the frig or in an ice bucket) to cool it down as you go along. Interesting routine too because you get a chance to try the wine at different temperatures – all on the cooler side – to find out exactly where you actually prefer it. Remember it always is easier to correct it if you start too cold rather than too warm. Experiment.


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Unique Wine Growing Areas of South Africa – Try Chenin Blanc!

August 14th, 2017

Unique Wine Growing Areas of South Africa - Try Chenin Blanc!

Like how Wines of South Africa (www.wosa.co.za) are highlighting the unique wine growing areas of South Africa. Study their new attached Map showing the breakdown in the Western Cape. Many Coastal Region districts to get to know better. You should note that Swartland is a big flatter hot region producing rich denser more compact wines. Stellenbosch has about 150 wineries with rolling hills of granite & sandstone with many young dynamic independent producers. Historic Constantia has diverse soils with pioneering sweeter wines, muscat, and some sauvignon blanc. Paarl has long hotter Summers with cabernet sauvignon, pinotage, and chardonnay thriving. Franschhoek Valley is inland warmer with the sandstone appropriate for some classy reds. Cape South Coast districts (especially Elgin & Walker Bay) are cooler with the 2 oceans coming together with fog and producing excellent chardonnay, pinot noir, and sauvignon blanc. Regular readers of this blog will know of my continuing admiration for the consistent quality of Hamilton Russell Chardonnay from the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley. Robertson in the Breede River Valley has some interesting limestone soils with low rainfall in a long growing season that also supports chardonnay, sparkling and pinot noir.

Vineyard plantings are actually decreasing with a new emphasis on a goal for better quality grapes. It is a young industry with about 30% of the vineyards under 10 years old. Good potential upside with their soil diversity of shale, gravel, sandstone, and more with unique climate & wind differences. One grape variety that impresses me is higher acidity Chenin Blanc (locally called Steen) that has been the most planted grape in South Africa. Ken Forrester has been the leader in all three tiers of his wines (Petit, Reserve, and FMC) but there are now more examples from other producers on the export market at fair value. Single vineyards, wild ferment, old big wood vats all being used to advantage. 2015 a great vintage everywhere for all grape varieties and 2016 out now is also excellent. Check out 2016 Reyneke biodynamic Chenin Blanc Stellenbosch fresh, bright, lees character and lively from granite soils or 2015 The Tea Leaf Chenin Blanc Piekernierskloof (with 15% Grenache Blanc) from a single old Rooibos site with 100% wild ferment and 50% new oak. Try some of these delightful balanced new Chenin Blancs from South Africa!


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Ten Tips & Pairings for the Ultimate Wine and Cheese Party

August 13th, 2017

10 Tips & Pairings for the Ultimate Wine & Cheese Party
By Joseph Temple

Wine and cheese parties are a great way to experiment with new pairings and flavors.  They can be as formal or informal as you want.  This is a chance to explore!


storing cheese for a party1. PROPER STORAGE

Make sure your cheese is fresh and properly stored. Once cut, all cheese has a shorter shelf life – some fresh cheeses, for example, are optimal only within the first few days after opening – even in a container filled with brine or water. Also, avoid plastic wrap as is traps moisture, which can cause mold and an off taste.
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What temperature should I serve cheese at2. SERVE CHEESE AT ROOM TEMPERATURE

In order to experience the full flavor profile of a cheese, it shouldn’t be served straight out of the fridge. But don’t leave it out for more than a couple of hours or it could dry and oil-out. And remember to also serve wine at the correct temperature.
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Cheese cracker pairing baguette3. KEEP IT SIMPLE

Artisan breads and crackers are all the rage and just fine for a casual eating experience, but if you want to enjoy the complete complexity of specific wine and cheese together, plain crackers or a simple baguette is the best choice for a clean pallet.
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cheese1alt4. CUTTING BOARDS AND THE RIGHT KNIVES

Let guests slice their own portion – a trendy slate or classic wood board is a relaxed way to enjoy the offering and share in the experience. Make sure to use the right knife for the job to avoid an embarrassing mess.
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What to add with cheese to a platter5. HAVE FUN AND EXPERIMENT

Once all of the pairings are complete, bring out the rest of the accouterments – nuts, honey, fruit, conserves, meats, pickles, and those artisan crackers you’ve been dying to try – whatever you think might work. Have fun and see how the new additions change with the wines.

 

different types of cheese6. CATEGORIZING CHEESE

There are several ways to categorize cheese, but texture is the easiest to identify, especially for a novice at the market – soft, semi-soft, and firm. For a three course tasting, start with lighter cheeses and move towards heavier flavors. For a good variety, offer a soft, semi-soft, and firm for each course.
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Soft cheese wine pairings7. PAIRING SOFT CREAMY CHEESES

For a soft creamy cheese, such as Brie or Camembert, serve a fruity to medium red such as Gamay Noir or a weighty, but acidic and refreshing Riesling.
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What wine to pair with semi soft cheese8. PAIRING SEMI-SOFT CHEESES

For a semi-soft cheese, such as Havarti or Gouda, serve a lightly oaked Pinot Noir or Chardonnay.
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What wine to pair with firm cheeses9. PAIRING FIRM CHEESES

For a firm cheese such as an aged cheddar, serve an equally robust Cabernet Sauvignon or Cabernet Franc.
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Mixing up different cheeses with wine10. SWITCH IT UP

Remember to switch it up. There are thousands of different kinds of cheese. Try a full-flavored Merlot with salty Parmesan or a sweet and acidic Vidal Ice wine with strong blue cheese.


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Ask Sid: Wine Cooling Unit vs. Window Air Conditioner

August 9th, 2017
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wine cellar ventilation

Question: Interested in your wise thoughts on the main difference between putting in an expensive wine cooling unit or a cheaper window air conditioner for my small expanding wine cellar.

Answer: Good practical question. Depends a lot on the climate where you live and what the normal range of temperatures would be without any cooling mechanism. First ask yourself just how cold do you want your cellar to generally be and how steady the temperature. An upscale wine cooling unit looks efficient and are often quieter doing a much better job of steadily maintaining a much cooler specific temperature (say below 15C or 59F) with better humidity. A simpler less costly window air conditioner is OK particularly for periodic use in cooler climates to lower those summer higher extremes (occurring more often recently with global warming) though doesn’t get the temperature down very cold (hard to maintain it below around 62F) and tends to dry out the surrounding air. Works best when you have some open water containers around the cellar to preserve higher moisture content in there to help the corks from drying out. Get what you pay for to some degree (pun intended) but either system should be of help to you with your storage conditions. You should decide what you need and can afford. Good luck.


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Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent

August 7th, 2017

For you gourmands and foodies out there you should be aware of a new documentary film produced by Anthony Bourdain  on Chef Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent. Check out the controversial movie review on rogerebert.com. An original partner with Alice Waters in the early seventies at Chez Panisse in Berkeley he went on to become one of the first celebrity chefs at several other restaurants including his open kitchen New American Cuisine San Francisco hot spot called “Stars”. He was so proud of the fact it was set in a relaxed informal almost “speakeasy” unique format where you could arrive dressed whatever even in jeans. Your scribe dined there several times including a most memorable event on December 8, 1990 (see Menu attached) organized by IWFS Marin County Haskell Norman Chapter celebrating the 70th Birthday of the late great Barney Rhodes. The wines were mind boggling including the famous Glamis Castle 1870 Lafite in magnum and so many other top treasures. IMHO it was one of the greatest wine and food lunches ever held! Jeremiah worked hard to craft what he thought were perfect food course pairings for these very special wines. Excellent choices were made by him though “Goat Cheese in Puff Pastry with Duck Crackling” served with the 3 old historic Lafites led to much discussion of differing opinions. One less known project was his consulting on the food and restaurant operations at the Hotel Vancouver (now Fairmont). See his full impressive Biography at jeremiahtowerconsulting.com. Talented Terry David Mulligan hosts Tasting Room Radio on Roundhouse Radio 98.3 FM Vancouver and will air an interesting interview with Chef Jeremiah Tower on Saturday August 19, 2017 at 10-11 PDT. Listen in at that time on line or go to tastingroomradio.com after to hear the podcast.

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